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Published: February 22nd 2015
Before leaving Rajahmundry this morning at Mani insistence, I visited the river front where a festival was underway and large numbers of people were being fed out of large steel pots, looking happy despite the morning heat and noise. I had to keep moving otherwise I would be surrounded by camera toting people trying to photograph me.
The next destination was an old temple out in a rice field near the town Pithapurum the people here were also celebrating festival which was most colourful. The people here mainly speak Telegu which Mani does not do asking directions from locals was difficult so we failed to find the temple.
We continued the journey north to Visakhapatnam or Visag for short, this city by Andra Pradesh standards is clean and pleasant. About 40 kilometers before arrival we stopped at Sankaram a Buddhist historical sight that was very impressive and for me is the highlight of the state. I took a guide here which was a good idea as he took me to sights I wouldnt have found alone, the rock cut stupas and freizes were out standing and the views of the surrounding country outstanding.
On arrival at Visag we
travelled through the city heading toward the Rushikonda beach area where I had a room booked in a resort that has seen better days. Darkness was falling as I wandered down toward what looked like a nice beach for India before heading to the restaurant where I ordered a piece of grilled fish and chips with a couple of eggs and got about ten pieces of sweet and sour fish, six eggs and some naan, even thought of a fried egg turns my stomach days later.
Next morning we visited the Thotlaconda Buddhist site perched on a lonely hill over the ocean, nice to have a place to myself for once. Several hours of driving brought us to the border of Odissa the fourth Indian state we traversed so far and a short time later Koraput.
Koraput is a small town by Indian standards (60,000) servicing the tribal areas of the Eastern Ghats, on arrival I was met by a local guide who has organised the necessary permits for my visit to the tribal market the next day. A brief walk to the Tribal museum was followed by a quick tour of the interesting Jagannath Temple and a
walk through the poorer part of town which was also eye opening.
A few hours past the town of Jeypore is the village Onkadelli, mostly populated by workers from the nearby hydroelectric plant it is the home of the colourful thursday market.
Four groups of tribal people come to the markets the Didai, Mali, the sometimes violent Bonda and a few elderly Gadaba women who I think the guide pays to come to the town. In the morning they sell fruit and other products in the afternoon they all get drunk on the contents of large pots of various beverages that the women bring to town. The older women of each group dress differently and are easy to distinguish from each other the young now dress like any other Indian girl.
The women were generally smalll some wore woven clothing and two tribes wore large metal rings around their necks the Gadaba necklets much thicker and heavier than the other. Another tribe the Mali had at least three large rings through their noses. The Bonda feed booze to their children from birth and as a result high mortality rates ensure their population doesnt increase.
day the guide took me to a couple of traditional villages the first was interesting enough the second was a potters village were the men make things from clay while the women do all the rest of the work. The last stop was the market at Kunduli which was much bigger than the one the previous day and as a result much more interesting.
It was a long drive from the market village to Rambha a town located on the shores of Asia's largest brackish lagoon, unfortunately over population and over fishing are destroying Lake Chilika. I came to this place in the hope of seeing Olive Ridley Turtles laying their eggs in the sand and found myself walking down a misty beach in the middle of the night. I found a nest raided by jackles the eggs destroyed and far too many dead turtles but no live specimens, quite depressing really.
After such a late night we didnt hit the road till 9am, first stop the craft village Raghurajpur I was the only person around so I was constantly harassed to the extent I had to leave, still bought a few nice things. The old hippy backpacker
haven of Puri was the next destination just a few kilometres away, I had a quick look at the large Jagannath temple before heading to a cafe that does a full english, only to find it shut just minutes earlier.
As I stood fuming in the street a hugely fat foreigner in pinkish robes came waddling down the street, it amuses me when they go local it also amuses the locals. Puri is also a paedofile hang out so I suspect his reasons for being there may not be innocent. It was time to head down the coast to Konark.
Konark is the home of the iconic Sun Temple which once stood as beacon for passing sailors, built in the 13th century to commemorate a victory over Islam and it now sits 3km from the receding ocean. I was impressed by this Unesco World Heritage site but not by the guides trying to cheat me. I suspect that if I had come on a week day I would have had smaller crowds to deal with. Still the temple is amazingly carved if only it wasnt covered in scaffolding.
We arrived in Orissa's capital Bhubaneswar in early evening,
travelling the roads of India is horrendous, frightening and ridiculous yet now I am no longer shocked at anything I see. I had a subway for dinner this evening which was a pleasant change after so many spicy meals.
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